The Egmont crypt
About 5 years before his death the count of Egmont had built a crypt in the church of Zottegem, where his grandfather Jacob II of Luxemburg-Fiennes (+ 1517) and his mother Françoise (+ 1557) also had been buried.
His decapitated body came to Zottegem in 1568 and found a resting place in the church. Later his wife Sabina of Bavaria (+ 1578) and their sons Philip (+ 1590) and Charles (+ 1620) were also buried in the crypt, which has been in use till the first half of the 17th century.
Until the end of the 18th century people had forgotten all about he graves and nobody really knew where they were situated.
They were rediscovered in 1804: two lead coffins were found containing the scull and bones of Egmont and the remains of his wife Sabina, together with three small heart-shaped boxes with the embalmed hearts of their sons Philip and Charles. Unfortunately, after these finds the crypt was firmly closed again.
In 1857 the coffins were placed in a new crypt under the church.
Because of the insufficient manner of conservation this crypt had to be renovated about a century later.
In 1951 the lead coffins were placed into a bronze tomb and in 1954 Egmont’s bones were treated with accurate conservation techniques and replaced into the crypt.
But one little bone was missing: the cervical vertebra bearing the traces of the decapitation.
In 1984 it was secretly given back to the town and now rests in a shrine placed in the council chamber of the Town Hall.
Translation and resume of a text by Danny Lamarcq, historian.